A newborn baby is an awful lot like a new business.
You’ve taken the time, thought, and care to determine if adding something (or someone) to your life is right for you. Is the timing right? Are your finances in order? Are you ready to take on the required responsibility?
You’ve answered yes, and, over many months of planning, researching, and development, you have emerged with something brand new, something fragile and delicate that depends solely on you for its survival. Fortunately, whether your bundle of joy is a baby or a business, the same rules of care apply.
So whether you’re a parent expecting a child, an entrepreneur in the early stages of your enterprise, or – heaven forbid – both, I can promise that these strategies and practices will set you up for your best chance at success.
At this point, you’ve taken your baby home from the hospital, or you’ve just begun the process of putting your business venture into motion. This is the exciting, yet uncertain time – you finally have what you wanted, but have little idea what to do.
In these first days, weeks, and months, everything is likely to blur. Baby will need to be fed, changed, put to bed, and calmed out of crying. A website and logo will need designing, a social media presence established, and various trademarks and copyrights need filing. You will move from task to task, wondering how you’ll ever make headway.
Furthermore, the encouraging news is that your job at this point is to discover the ins and outs of your child or your business. Try, if you can, to enjoy the process of learning the dos and don’ts in your new role, or at least not to hate it. Remember: every bit of information that you glean, whether from success or failure, is ultimately useful.
Remember also that you entered into this because of your passion, love, and devotion. Despite the late nights that lead into early mornings, the moments when you want to bang your head against the wall, and the times when you have no energy left, but simply have to push on anyway, you have to pour all of your love and care into the adventure you’ve begun. You get back what you put in, after all, and approaching the situation with enthusiasm and joy gives you the best chance for success.
GETTING THE HANG OF THINGS
At this point, you’ve put in enough time that you’re beginning to know the drill. If your life were a filmstrip, at this point it would show a swiftly moving assembly line – things may not be running smoothly, but at least there’s some semblance of a system in place. Of course you can do better, though – and if you don’t know how yet, you at least want to improve.
The easiest step on the path toward smooth operations is the idea of the immediate response. It seems simple on first glance: if your baby is crying, you go to him immediately; if you get an important email, you answer right away. But if it’s the middle of the night and you’re dead tired, you may want him to cry it out. If you’re immersed in piles of paperwork, that email can easily be siphoned off into the land of ‘I’ll deal with it later.’
In a similar vein, establishing a routine is key. With your baby, you should know when sleeping, feeding, and playtime should happen – so too with your business! Ensure that you have adequate time to take care of the needs of your project without sacrificing meals, REM, or the company of other people. If you work so hard that you neglect your happiness – or if you focus too much on one aspect of your baby’s life that you neglect the others – you are actively hindering your progress, whether you realize it or not. In short, balance is the most important gift you can give to yourself.
I would argue that the second greatest gift is self-care. If you don’t stop to take care of yourself, how can you expect to take care of something or someone else? Regardless of how difficult it may seem to step away from your role as a parent or an entrepreneur, you must do it every now and then to ensure your happiness and sanity. This can take several forms, depending on your preference: hitting up a yoga class, going out with friends, having sex with your partner, or just binging on Netflix – all are acceptable, so long as they bring you peace of mind.
Despite the best-laid plans, you will always run into snags. Regardless of what they may be, the best response is action rather than blame or regret. Embrace your challenges! You may not know everything about running a business or raising a family, but learning to problem solve is a priceless skill that cannot come without hard work.
Don’t allow yourself to struggle forever. If you’ve tried to figure things out on your own to no avail, ask for help. You may have failed to find a solution, but asking for advice from others does not make you a failure.
Neither does realizing that you need some sort of permanent help. Whether that be a nanny or another employee, this is also perfectly acceptable – sometimes even necessary. You’re not a superhero, and even if you were, think of it this way: Batman got to relax with his billions ever so often. Why are you any different?
When taking on an extra set of hands, make sure you have thoroughly vetted their every qualification – or lack thereof. You’ll be trusting this person with something precious – ensure they are experienced, well equipped, and that they share your passion. This may take time, but choosing quickly can be worse than waiting to make a decision you feel good about.
PLEASANT (AND UNPLEASANT) SURPRISES
I’ve always believed in beginning with the bad news, so here it is: there will be times – days or weeks, even – when you regret this decision you’ve made. You’re exhausted, unmotivated, and frustrated, and you want to abandon the entire thing – stop being a parent, close up shop, and go back to life as it used to be. This is normal. What you’ve taken on is no small thing, and it will not always be easy, fun, or even seemingly worthwhile. Know that these times will come, know that you will make mistakes, that you will feel like you’re doing everything wrong – and know also that these times will pass.
The good news is that every new day as a parent or an entrepreneur makes you stronger, more capable, and simply better as a person. You may feel weak at times, hell, even most of the time, but remember that you have done something that others were too afraid to do, something that others look up to, something that gives your life meaning and a sense of purpose.
If nothing else, take that away with you. If nothing else, remember your perfect perseverance, your enduring grit, your total and complete capability when it comes to your baby: your business.